It looks like 20th Century Fox under Stacey Snider is going to be an all-in-the-family studio.
On Nov. 10, Fox Animation bought children's book Momotaro: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters by Margaret Dilloway, which followed pickups of Kelly Barnhill's The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Ben Hatke's Zita the Spacegirl, Jennifer Weiner's The Littlest Bigfoot and Garth Nix's Princess and the Frog tale Frogkisser! And on Wednesday, Fox also revealed it is developing a theatrical feature based on the 2014 Oscar-nominated animated short The Dam Keeper from two former Pixar art directors.
The new projects won't all be straight animation plays. At least two - Girl Who Drank the Moon and Littlest Bigfoot - will be CG/live-action hybrids, a priority area for the studio, which hired executive Nate Hopper in September to build the initiative. The format already has proved successful with movies such as the Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise, made by Fox but under the live-action arm at the time.
And as The Dam Keeper shows, the projects won't be strictly from Blue Sky Animation, the Fox-owned animation house responsible for the Ice Age movies and 2015's The Peanuts Movie.
These moves follow Snider's ascension on Sept. 1 to chairman and CEO of Fox's film group. Sources say Snider wants to turn the animation division, run by Vanessa Morrison, into a power player as she builds the Fox slate.
Feature animation is having another banner year at the box office, led by billion-dollar worldwide grosses for Disney's Finding Dory and Zootopia and $873 million for Universal/Illumination's The Secret Life of Pets. Fox's Ice Age: Collision Course pulled in $407 million, while its Trolls (produced by DreamWorks Animation) has made $224 million since its Nov. 4 release.
"More than ever, now is an exciting time to be in the all-audience, family entertainment space," Morrison tells The Hollywood Reporter. "We are excited to grow and deepen our Blue Sky business as well as expand our efforts into hybrids and look for other opportunities in animation."
A version of this story first appeared in the Nov. 25 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.